A completely new and improved RaleighNC.gov launched on November 20, 2019. The effort was years in the making, led by the Communications and Information Technology Departments, in collaboration with all departments citywide. The City’s website is the top source for city info (as rated by 76 percent of residents in the 2020 Community Survey). The new site is modern and useful web platform to promote City services, improve community engagement, integrate third-party applications, and meet ADA best practices to ensure the information is accessible for all.
The website project spanned three phases, for three years, with three external partners. In choosing companies to collaborate with, the team assesses all requirements as well as cost to deliver the best outcome.
- Phase 1 Discovery: The web team spent time with stakeholders and residents to assess things like reactions to the current site, what works, critical success factors, and what they value about other websites. This was the foundation that led to the service-oriented approach (Partner: Net Tango, Louisville, KY)
- Phase 2 Infrastructure and Architecture: In this phase, the team took all the learnings from Discovery and started to build the structure of the new website, looking at how information would be organized in a simple and easy-to-navigate way. This phase included system architecture design, configuration, and implementation of a new Drupal 8 content management system to support the strategic vision. (Partner: Atlantic BT, Raleigh)
- Phase 3 Development and Launch: In the last year, the team has been working long nights and days, hand in hand with our partners at Aten, to bring the site to life. This phase included content strategy, content migration, cleaning up years and years of documents and pages, and finally, development, system integration and designing the look and feel. The team was able to cut the number of documents and pages in half before migrating to the new site. (Partner: Aten Design Group, Denver, CO)
As part of the final phase, the team conducted live “usability sessions” with general residents as well as the City’s Active Adult Program and Digital Connectors Program. The goal was to ensure the site was easy to navigate and to collect feedback on any issues that needed to be addressed for launch. As always, the outside feedback was incredibly valuable and influenced some meaningful tweaks to the site.
The final product is ready for “primetime!” The new site is service-oriented; it’s about finding what you want, when you want it, whatever your approach is, from looking through the departments, to browsing service categories, to using the search tool.
Highlights of the home page:
- Most popular services - These are mainly based on site traffic and will be featured for easy access;
- City-wide news and events - These can be filtered by service area when you click on that section;
- Access to City Council - Information, contact info, option to petition, meeting minutes and agendas
- "My City Services" - A one stop shop where you can simply enter your address and get information like your CAC district, Council representative, voting location, police precinct, and more.
The website also features a "Projects” section, where residents and business partners can get up-to-date information on all initiatives across departments. The feature includes project background, contact information, budget, contractor (if applicable), phases, and more.
The site lives on a new, simpler, faster content management system (Drupal 9). The City will continue to build on this platform with more tools and features in the coming years. The visual design fits with the new City brand implementation.
Once the new site is live, everyone is encouraged to explore and get comfortable with it. That said, visitors will have the option to click back to the old website for four weeks to ease the transition. There will be a link on the homepage of the new RaleighNC.gov, linking to the former site, archive.raleighnc.gov. If you have feedback, please use the "was this page helpful?" widget located at the bottom of each page. That will allow the team to organize all comments and ensure that the community’s feedback will be seen and is appreciated.
The City followed other municipalities leading the way and industry best practices along the journey, and is excited to bring our residents this website that can deliver best-in-class communications for our growing, dynamic community.